Appointments and public access

City Council votes to have members choose commissioners, signs over public TV station to nonprofit

The Chico City Council voted on Tuesday (Sept. 16) to change the way it appoints members of the Arts, Planning and Bidwell Park and Playground commissions.

An ad-hoc committee made up of Mayor Scott Gruendl, Vice Mayor Mark Sorensen and Councilwoman Tami Ritter recommended adopting a process in which individual council members would appoint members of commissions to terms concurrent with their own. The full council would then vote on whether to approve each appointee.

Councilmembers Randall Stone and Ann Schwab, along with former Mayor Mardi Worley, who commented as a member of the public, expressed concern that the new process could foster elitism and detrimental allegiances.

“Some commission members will feel accountable to the council member rather than the city as a whole,” Worley warned.

After two failed motions, the council approved the change on a 4-3 vote with Schwab, Stone and Mary Goloff dissenting.

In other council news, the panel voted in favor of a nonprofit foundation taking over public access broadcasting from the city.

North Valley Community Access TV relinquished broadcasting duties in April, leaving the city to manage the public access station on which City Council meetings are broadcast. The new agreement would transfer those duties to the Upstate Community Enhancement Foundation.

At the council meeting on Tuesday, Executive Director Debra Lucero outlined a vision for a new station, Butte Community Access TV, which would occupy the long-vacant space at 500 Main St., and broadcast on Comcast’s Channel 11, in addition to streaming online.

The station also would serve as an educational resource for at-risk youth, Lucero said, offering digital media experience and broadening interest in the arts.

In a 6-1 vote, with Sorensen dissenting, the council approved a five-year agreement with the nonprofit that includes an initial $112,000 of funding for equipment.